Susie Poppitt has seen many changes in her 19-year career at Derian House.
She was working as a therapeutic radiographer at the Christie Hospital in Manchester and had begun to get involved in their fundraising appeals, when the call came from Derian House.
She said: “At the time I was getting into fund-raising with Christies and was thinking of leaving to get more experience on that side of things, when Miss Vinten came to deliver a talk.
“She happened to mention that she was looking to raise capital for Derian House, and wanted to know if Christies knew anyone who could help.
“That’s when my name was put forward and I agreed to work with the hospice. They knew I was very keen on having fund-raising and marketing working hand in hand. “The whole idea was that I’d go for six months, help to get them on track and implement a feasibility plan.
“But then the fund-raising manager was given a different job within the hospice, and I ended up with the full time role.
“That was 19 years ago, and I’ve loved my job ever since.”
In Susie’s first year, she was tasked with raising £620,000 - a figure that has now increased to £2.9m.
She said: “Even though the costs of running the hospice have gone up year-on-year, the £620,000 I had to find 19 years ago was a comparable figure to what we have now.
“The cost of everything has gone up because of inflation, but we also have extra costs now, such as building and running Derian Lodge.
“But despite the extra demands, we have managed to keep the running costs down and are consistently the most cost-effective fund-raising team in the country, with 90p in every pound being spent on care. We achieve this by having a very small fund-raising team, who are very good at what they do.”
In recent times, the troubled economic climate has had an effect on fund-raising efforts at Derian House, something Susie said has led her team to “work twice as hard for the same amount of money.”
She said: “We couldn’t possibly do what we do without the community support, and we still have people who want to help, but perhaps they can’t give as much as they used to.
“We also have to be proactive and come up with new ideas, such as the tea party celebrations, to engage with different sections of the community.”
During Susie’s time, Derian House has build up bereavement services for different age groups - Pebbles for siblings, Stepping Stones for parents, and Cornerstones for grandparents. It has also expanded to cover ‘hospice from home’ care.
Susie added: “When I walk through the door, it’s still got the same feeling it had 19 years ago. The ethos has remained the same, although we have got bigger, and the number of families we’re supporting has increased.”
“The fact I’ve stayed so long at Derian House is testament to the fact that I completely love my job.”